The freshly-crowned Weltmeisters took on beaten finalists Argentina last night in Dusseldorf in what was supposed to be a homecoming celebration for the world’s finest footballing nation. But thanks to a virtuoso display by Manchester United’s Angel di Maria, that wasn’t quite the case. Here are 5 things we learned from the match.
1. Erik Lamela can play football
After enduring a nightmare first season at Spurs, one which was ravaged by injury and poor form (the two were obviously related) and ended with him missing out on the World Cup, Lamela is showing the kind of form that shot him to prominence in the first place. Last night, he was one of Argentina’s brightest players and scored a very, very nice volley to put them 2-0 up.
2. Germany face a battle replacing retired stars
Philipp Lahm, Per Mertesacker and Miroslav Klose all hung up their international boots this summer, leaving three gaping holes in the Germany side. Yes, Germany have abundant quality in their squad, but the dressing room will have felt emptier without those huge personalities. There could be a transitional period ahead for the Germans as they adapt.
3. History may have been different had Di Maria played in the World Cup final
Injury cruelly denied the winger the chance to play in the World Cup final in July, but he went some way to make up for it with the kind of display that could have been the difference in Rio de Janeiro. Three assists and one sublime goal capped a wonderful display by the Manchester United man.
4. Manuel Neuer is beatable
Neuer received widespread acclaim for his World Cup performances, particularly against Algeria when his string of saves helped turn a potentially humiliating last-16 exit to the African minnows into an eventual victory. But last night he was beaten four times, failing to organise his defence on several occasions. He is one of the world’s best, for sure, but not invincible, as his reputation would suggest.
5. Argentina can win without Messi
In fact they can not only win, but absolutely pummel the world’s best national team. Yes, Germany were below par, but there has been a growing sense in recent times that Argentina are a one man team, just waiting for their Maestro to bail them out of every average performance. Last night, Argentina looked confident, fresh and fearless without him, and new coach Gerardo Martino will be buoyed by that.
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